Listening to Suzon Lagarde teaching the other week I overheard a bit of advice delivered in her charming Inspector Clouseau style French accent: “sometimes you need the playful side and sometimes you need the critical side.., but mostly you need the playful side” A familiar theme but worth returning to again and again until we can honestly allow ourselves to be who we are without a scintilla of self-judgement.
Creativity flourishes in an uncritical atmosphere. But like a well fertilised garden it needs the occasional weed and bit of judicious pruning. The most important part is the flourishing. This is because the critical bit is easy, it relies upon what we have learnt and what we know, we can be judgemental in a good mood or in a bad one, no problem. Creativity, emanating from our wordlessly fecund innards, over which we have no direct control, is a different matter. We cannot will it but we can learn to remove its impediments.
As artists we need to treasure this flourishing as a soprano treasures her voice. Sopranos avoid smokey rooms, shouting and keep well hydrated. We artists should avoid self-hatred and engage with play whenever we can.
Our marks are the rawest of our visual output, like the sound of our voice they are unique to us, in one sense they are our greatest asset. And yet I’ll bet many of us recoil at some of the marks we make, more so than obvious transgressions of proportion or value. So as an antidote to our self criticism we can seek to consciously indulge whatever marks we make, to just witness our output with the generosity of spirit we save for the mud pies built by small children.
When we can see our splats and scratches with that expansive sense of wonder, we begin to see our work not just as others might but we create a positive feedback loop: when we love what we do we begin to love who we are.